SEATTLE — Attending the Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest in Cleveland last May, Seahawks legend Walter Jones experienced flashbacks to his first year with Seattle in 1997.
Most of the other 100 or so Hall-of-Famers in attendance wore the ubiquitous gold sport coats that each is awarded when inducted. Jones and the other members of the Class of 2014, though, had to wear their usual everyday attire.
“You get treated like a rookie because they are walking around in their gold jackets and you are not,” Jones said Monday.
That’ll change this weekend when Jones is officially inducted into the Hall of Fame during ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.
The festivities begin Friday when Jones and six others will receive their gold jackets during the fittingly titled, “Gold Jacket Dinner.”
The official Enshrinement Ceremony is Saturday for Jones, who will become just the eighth player to have spent time with the Seahawks to be inducted, and only the third who played his entire career with the Seahawks. The others are receiver Steve Largent and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy.
Repeating what he said the night he was voted into the Hall on Feb. 1 — the day before Seattle won the Super Bowl — Jones said Monday that playing for one team his entire career is among his proudest accomplishments.
During a conference call with local reporters, Jones also recalled a flurry of other memorable moments of his career, during which he stamped himself as one of the best left tackles in NFL history.
One memory he said will always stand out is merely getting drafted, despite the fact that as a projected high-round choice it was not in question. Seattle took Jones with the sixth overall choice in 1997.
“At that point, I just wanted to get in the NFL,” he said.
Jones lived up to his high draft status from day one, starting all 180 games he would play for the Seahawks. That’s the second-most games in team history, behind only Largent’s 197.
Jones went on to make nine Pro Bowls, most in Seahawks history, and was a six-time All-Pro.
His peak, and that of the team during that era, came in 2005 when he helped lead Seattle to its first Super Bowl with an offense that gained 5,915 yards, most in team history.
He was called for holding just nine times on 5,703 pass attempts in his career, allowing just 23 sacks according to the stats of Seattle coaches.
Asked what he feels when he hears people say he might be the best left tackle ever, Jones said, “You want to be in the conversation.”
Mostly, though, he says he’s glad that being in the Hall of Fame means that players from future generations will know who he was.
He talked about kids going to the Hall of Fame for the first time and seeing his bust and then Googling his name.
“It’s an honor to be in a spot for a kid to say ‘Man, that’s how I want to play the game of football,”’ Jones said.
Jones, who was known for being a man of relatively few words during his playing career, also talked of the angst he is feeling as induction — and speech time — nears.
“Am I nervous?” he said. “Yes, I’m very nervous.”
He is being presented by his 14-year-old son Walterius. Four inductees this year selected a family member to do the honors.
Walterius’ work is mostly done, though, as he has already taped a video that will be shown as part of the ceremony.
Walter Jones has yet to see it, adding to his anticipation about a weekend in which he says “everything I did on the football field will all be presented in this one moment.”
One he will be able to take with him forever.
“Now I have to come back next year so they will see me in my gold jacket,” he said.